A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, allows a computer to connect to a network even though it may be located very far away from the hardware running that network. Put more simply, a VPN can allow you to “fool” your computer into thinking it is on your workplace’s network, when in actuality, you are at home in your PJ’s. This guide will show you how to set up a VPN connection on macos machines, using credentials provided by your network administrator.
Step 1: Open “Network” System Preferences pane by clicking the “WiFi” icon in the status bar, and then selecting “Open Network Preferences.”
Step 2: In the resulting window, click the “+” icon towards the bottom left.
Step 3: A Pop-Up will appear asking you to select an interface and enter a name for the new service. For interface, select “VPN.” Once you have done this, a new option called “VPN Type” will appear. While there are several types of VPN connections, each with different use cases, for the purposes of this demonstration we are going to select the most common type, “L2TP over IPSec.” Your network administrator can tell you more specifically what type of VPN you should select, but besides some minor changes in the required credentials, the rest of the setup process should be the same across all types. Step 4: Once you click “Create,” the Popup will disappear and the newly created VPN Connection will appear in the left-most list of available interfaces. Depending on what interfaces you have available, you might have to scroll down the list in order to see the VPN.
Step 5: Input a Server Address and Account Name. The Server Address should be provided by whomever initially set up the network and is always a series of numbers separated by periods i.e. 192.168.01.02 or 126.96.36.199
Account Name is essentially a username, and should also have been provided by a network administrator. Every environment has different conventions for creating usernames, but as an example, a network administrator might create the account name “teverest” for a user named Tess Everest. Tess would thus enter “teverest” into the Account Name field.
Step 6: Click “Authentication Settings” and then input a password, and shared secret. Both of these should again be obtained from a network administrator. The password functions the same as any other password, and is tied to the specific user account (test1 in my above example) while the shared secret is common among all users trying to access that particular network. More simply, every user at a given company using a VPN will have a unique password, but they will all input the same “shared secret” into this field. Once you have finished inputting into these fields, click “OK” to close out this window.
Step 7 (Optional): While not always necessary, some VPN connections will not work unless the “Send all traffic over VPN connection” checkbox is selected. To find this option, click “Advanced” and you will see the checkbox listed under “Session Options.” If you have followed the rest of the steps in this guide, and the VPN fails to connect, checking this box is often a good first troubleshooting step.
Step 8: Verify that all credentials entered are correct. If, for example, a username or password is mistyped in the input field, the VPN will fail to connect. Many collective hours have been spent troubleshooting a failing VPN connection only to discover that a username was misspelled, so double, and then triple check! Once you have done this, click apply. This will save all settings.
Step 9: Click “Connect.” The VPN interface should turn green, and you should now be successfully connected.